Theft embarrasses slack Louvre

THE LOUVRE lost a painting on Sunday and 20,000 people lost their tempers.

It was not the biggest or the most valuable painting in the Louvre - a diminutive landscape by Corot - but it was gone and an embarrassed museum wanted it back. All entrances to the sprawling building were blocked by police for nearly three hours.

Frightening rumours circulated among the large crowd trapped inside: there had been a murder, a bomb, a fire. People fainted, screamed, shouted. But the police insisted on searching the art-lovers' bags - and some of the art-lovers' bodies - one by one.

The tiny 13in-by-19in canvas by the French, pre-Impressionist painter Camille Corot was sliced out of its frame in an obscure, little-visited and unguarded room in the Sully pavilion. Its absence was noticed by an attendant at 1.30pm on Sunday. It was still missing yesterday.

Five Corots were stolen from French museums - allegedly for Japanese collectors - in the 1980s; all were later recovered.

This is the fourth incident of the kind at the Louvre in the last four years. A religious robe from the 4th-century BC disappeared from the collection of ancient Greek artefacts this January; two relatively obscure paintings vanished in 1995 and 1994. There have also been several acts of vandalism.

The attacks have mostly occurred on a Sunday when the museum is most crowded. On each occasion, the Louvre has promised to review its security. Pierre Rosenberg, president-director of the museum, admitted yesterday that the stolen Corot had no individual alarm; it was hung in a room with no permanent attendant and no video surveillance. The thief prised open a glass security case and cut around the painting with a razor, without being noticed.

Mr Rosenberg tried to be philosophical yesterday. "In my opinion, thefts of this kind are relatively rare. They are part of our sad fate [as one of the most visited art galleries in the world]."

The museum was not so relaxed when the theft was discovered. Visitors complained that they had been squashed for two hours as bags were laboriously checked. No audible explanation was given. Louvre staff explained that they had been asking for a proper system of loudspeakers for years: the authorities had always refused, fearing it would make the place appear "like a supermarket".

The missing canvas - Le Chemin de Sevres - was painted in 1858-9. Corot paintings fluctuate wildly in price - from pounds 400 to pounds 600,000 - according to their size and subject. A Corot of a similar size and topic was sold recently in New York for just over pounds 70,000.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Barnardo's: Corporate Audit and Inspection – Retail Intern (Leeds)

Unpaid - £4 lunch allowance plus travel to and from work: Barnardo's: Purpose ...

Recruitment Genius: Content Writer - Global Financial Services

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Receptionist

£15000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future